The MMA world let out a good chuckle when Jake Shields said his brand of "American jiu-jitsu" would win the battle of the grappling chops with world Brazilian champion Demian Maia.
But who's chuckling now, MMA world? Who's chuckling now, indeed.
I'll tell you who.
After reversing, out-positioning, guard-passing and generally smothering the would-be welterweight title challenger en route to a grueling split decision victory at UFC Fight Night 29, held Wednesday night in Brazil, it's Shields.
Maia was favored on most prediction lists, but in the end, everyone who wasn't throwing little metaphorical scraps of torn-up wager slips above their heads was standing and applauding the masterful—if not visually scintillating—effort.
So what now for the 34-year-old who finds himself undefeated (2-0) as a UFC welterweight?
Here are three possible opponents.
Dong Hyun Kim
This one makes sense to me. Both men are on great runs at welterweight, with Kim winning his own match Wednesday night with a show-stealing knockout of prospect Erick Silva.
Despite having big hands like Shields, Kim is a position grappler first and could grind out quite a nice little chess match with Shields. He would also have a lot more for Shields on the feet than Maia did.
Nate Marquardt/Hector Lombard winner
Will the Marquardt roller coaster move upward next weekend at UFC 166, or is the bottom of the drop-off not yet in sight?
If the heavy-striking judo black belt Lombard takes the victory, that's three straight losses for Nate the Great, and Shields would be facing a sprawl-and-brawl killer in the Cuban-Australian.
If Marquardt can outflank Lombard either on the feet or the ground, he'd make an interesting and well-rounded foil for Shields, though the Shields Blanket would probably have the early edge on paper.
With Lombard, however, all bets, as always, would be off.
Rory MacDonald/Robbie Lawler winner
This might be the highest-level matchup Shields could realistically receive.
MacDonald is the phenom hovering pretty close to that near-inevitable collision with training partner, friend, mentor and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Lawler is the knockout artist who has surprised plenty of observers by mowing down Josh Koscheck and then Bobby Voelker in his latest stint with the UFC.
Though Shields would hold a grappling advantage over either, neither are babes in the woods on the mat. MacDonald and Lawler both have the complete technical game and raw finishing power (especially, though not necessarily, respectively) to give Shields all he can handle.